Naturals at Nature


The Hopi Indians of Arizona believe that our daily rituals and prayers literally keep this world spinning on its axis. For me, feeding the seagulls is one of those everyday prayers. ~~Brenda Peterson

Kids are Naturals at Nature

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From the time they can walk, children love to explore each blade of grass and every tiny insect. They really are naturals at nature and I got to wondering what type of nature resources I might find here at HEM now that we are enjoying spring and the returning birds. Like Brenda, I have bird feeders all over my yard and we have a whole variety of feathered friends that visit to drink and eat here. I also have three well worn reference books next to my desk that we have enjoyed since my boys were young naturalists. There is The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, Reader’s Digest Nothern American Wildlife and Birds of Ohio. We also have smaller guides, but those are in the car for when we go hiking.

Below are some great nature resources from past issues of Home Education Magazine

Supplements Are The Key! by Lois Szymanski

Have you ever thought of the world around you as one giant supplement? I do. When we go on walks, (which is physical education) we take along a great book called The Birder’s Journal. Created by Mel Baughma and published by Stackpole Books, the journal is filled with sketches of birds that can be colored. Under each bird is a place to list when and where it was sighted as well as a spot for notes. Using her Peterson First Guides to Birds, (by Roger Tory Peterson- Houghton Mifflin Company) and her Golden Guide to Birds (by Herbert S. Zim and Ira N. Gabrielson- Western Publishing Company, Inc.) she looks up the birds she sees and colors them in. When we go marsh mucking on Assateague Island on vacations, we drag every unknown specimen we find into the naturalist to learn more about it. Then we document our findings on paper and with photographs and keep them in a notebook.
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Older Kids – Learning and Doing Science by Cafi Cohen

Instead, your teenagers may want to consider a specialized area, a single problem, in The following areas – astronomy, botany, geology, meteorology, electricity/electronics, nature studies, health and disease, nutrition, parasitology, paleontology, herpetology, history of science. College catalogs usually state two or three years of “science” as adequate preparation for their programs. Most do not specify biology, chemistry, and physics. And most do not specify that applicants must have taken a survey course. Choose an interesting area. Work on one topic or problem in depth.

The Road to EnthusiasmS.A. Terhorst-Steele

Julian (four) has become interested in flora and fauna. I’m not much of a naturalist. In fact I rarely noticed plants and animals until I began having my own children. I was more likely to be found reading a book or writing. These days however, I am spending a great deal of time contemplating what types of plants or animals reside in our world and what they have in common with each other. The focus of my day with Julian is reading National Geographic, plotting the map, watching the occasional nature video, watering plants and visiting various nurseries so he can ask what kind of care his orchid needs.

Five Steps to Unschooling – Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll

To unschool, you begin with your child’s interests. If she’s interested in birds, you read – or browse, toss aside, just look at the pictures in – books on birds, watch videos on birds, talk about birds, research and build (or buy) bird feeders and birdhouses, keep a journal on birds, record and ponder their behavior, search the web for items about birds, go to bird sanctuaries, draw birds, color a few pictures in the Dover Birds of Prey coloring book, play around with feathers, study Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings of flying machines that he based on birds, watch Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

But DON’T go whole hog on this. Gauge how much to do and when by your child’s reactions. Let her say no thanks. Let her choose. Let her interest set the pace. If it takes years, let it take years. If it lasts an hour, let it last an hour.
Good Stuff – To Dissect Or Not To Dissect by Becky Rupp

My homeschool journals are stuffed with photographs. There are pictures of our three boys building toothpick bridges, inflating hot-air balloons, weaving Navajo-style headbands, making papier-mache Viking helmets, painting birdfeeders, planting beans, firing rockets, making clay models of the Parthenon, raising butterflies. And – a fat lump in the middle of Journal #3 – there’s a whole stack of snapshots of the kids dissecting frogs.



Here are some great resources from other folks:

There are many, many more that you can find at your library or by doing a search. I found a blog that I really enjoy that is specific to Ohio, but the writer is a passionate naturalist, so I check his Ohio Birds and Biodiversity blog on a regular basis. As blogging has grown, it isn’t hard to find informative blogs on subjects that people are passionate about. Enjoy!

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